Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics
- Since the start of last season, Texas and Oakland have the exact same record, 172-126. At .577, the teams are tied for the highest winning percentage among AL clubs in that span.
- The Rangers are an AL-best 20-8 since August 1, and have gained five games in the standings on Oakland (15-13) in that time. Texas' opponent batting average of .229 since the start of August also leads the AL.
- The A's rank second among all MLB teams in walks at 486 (Boston -- 499); their rate of one walk per 10.69 plate appearances is the highest among all clubs. This is the highest walk rate for the A's since 2007 (one per 9.59 plate appearances)
- Coco Crisp has 16 home runs this season, all of them from the leadoff spot. He ranks second in home runs as a No. 1 hitter, trailing only the Reds' Shin-Soo Choo (18). The last Oakland player with more home runs from the leadoff spot was Terrence Long, with 17 in 2000.
- Grant Balfour is perfect in save opportunities at home in 2013, converting all 18 of them. Balfour has no won-lost record and a 1.39 ERA at home; on the road, he is 0-3 with two blown saves and a 4.22 ERA.
- Elvis Andrus has a .231 batting average from the leadoff spot this season; in all other batting positions, Andrus is hitting .271. Andrus had 10 RBI vs. Oakland in 2012, but in 2013 has a .167 average (8-for-48) and no RBI in 12 games against the A's.
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By JORDAN GARRETSON
(AP) -- The Oakland Athletics waited until the last day of the season to win the AL West last year.
They're making their move earlier in 2013.
A day after pulling even with the visiting Texas Rangers, Oakland can move ahead of them for sole possession of first place on Tuesday night.
Coco Crisp's fifth-inning go-ahead home run - upheld by video review - was the difference maker in a 4-2 victory on Monday, Oakland's fourth in a row. Crisp's homer was his third in as many games and his career-high 17th of the year.
Crisp later left after fouling a ball off his shin but said he was fine afterward.
"It's a back and forth that kind of pumps your blood a little bit," Crisp said. "Obviously you want to be close or you want to be in front, in first place or as far in front as possible. We're fortunate we're in the situation we are now."
Oakland (79-58) spent much of the latter part of last season chasing Texas and only claimed the division crown on Oct. 3 with a 12-5 victory.
This season, Texas (79-58) had been in sole possession of first place since Aug. 10.
"I expect it to go all the way down to the end. Division champs over there," manager Ron Washington said after his club's third loss in its last 15 road games. "I don't expect them to go away and I certainly don't expect us to go away. Everything goes through Oakland. Doesn't matter where positioned in the standings right now."
The Rangers hope starter Martin Perez (8-3, 3.58 ERA) can extend his rookie club-record winning streak to six starts. His offense has played a big role in that stretch, supplying him with 40 runs of support in his last 35 1-3 innings, but he's also limited opponents to 12 runs over that span.
"He just goes out there and does what he does," Washington said. "That's throw the fastball down in the zone, change speeds and use his breaking ball and move it around."
Perez hasn't faced Oakland after going 1-2 in three starts last year. He won the first but then surrendered nine runs over 4 2-3 innings in the two losses.
Crisp is 2 for 6 off Perez with a double and two strikeouts.
Oakland will counter with Bartolo Colon (14-5, 2.94), who allowed one run over five innings of a 7-6 loss at Detroit on Thursday in his first start since Aug. 13. Colon had given up 10 runs over 6 2-3 innings in two starts before a stint on the disabled list due to a groin injury.
He is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in four starts against the Rangers since joining the Athletics in 2012.
Oakland may have to lean on a different pitcher in a potential save situation after Grant Balfour pitched for the fourth time in five days on Monday. Balfour, who allowed a hit and a walk before recording his 36th save, said he was running on fumes.
Lance Berkman was 0 for 4 for the Rangers in his first game since July 7 after being sidelined by left hip inflammation and a sore surgically repaired right knee. Washington told the team's official site he plans to start him Tuesday as well to see how he responds after the long layoff.
Adrian Beltre is batting .302 (19 for 63) with five homers and seven doubles lifetime versus Colon.
Updated September 3, 2013